ICSA Wicklow chair Tom Stephenson has said he is pleased that Bord Bia has suspended all Quality Assurance (QA) inspections following a call from ICSA president Edmond Phelan. “This was an important move and one that will ultimately help keep our farmers safe as we face into these uncertain times. Farmers have a vital role to play in keeping our food production systems going, but we must also make every effort to keep ourselves and our families well,” he said.
“ICSA is calling on all consumers to support Irish food, particularly fresh product like meat, dairy and veg. At times like this, we all need to support each other.” Mr Stephenson was particularly critical of the amount of chicken being imported from China, Thailand and Brazil saying it was being used to undermine the viability of Irish farmers. “I am pleading with consumers to read the label carefully and look for the IE symbol. Special care is needed with manufactured products like chicken goujons which are often made with ingredients from all over the world and in many cases, from countries with totally inadequate traceability systems.”
“ICSA also welcomes the injection of money into the EU economy by the European Central Bank (ECB). ICSA was very clear that this was essential to cover all of the economic calamity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The ECB is to pump €750 billion into the European economy by way of buying government bonds, which is much more effective than making more money available to banks to lend. More may be required. The key point is that unless national governments are able to finance Covid-19 measures, they will be unable to fully fund the EU budget with knock-on implications for the Common Agricultural Policy.
ICSA will be actively pursuing this to make sure that farmers do not end up being left behind in the Covid crisis. After all, it is now abundantly clear that we absolutely have to have European food security and those who took farmers for granted are now being exposed for their short-sightedness.”
Mr Stephenson said he would like to reassure farmers that ICSA remains in constant contact with officials from the Department of Agriculture and the European Union.
“The business of farming is continuing, albeit under very strange circumstances. It is important for us all to follow the guidelines issued by the HSE but it is also important that we keep morale up in our homes and in our communities. Please keep in touch with friends and relatives, particularly those who are elderly or living alone. It has never been more important for us to look after our most vulnerable.”
Mr Stephenson reminded farmers that ICSA remains just a phone call away for anyone looking for advice or support. To get in touch, please call 057 8662120.